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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

A lesson in unfailing love

Jan 29, 2024 03:46PM ● By Lawrence Yoshito Shiroma

“Not even a sparrow can fall to the ground without your Heavenly Father knowing it.”

Matthew 10:29 

The moment arrived sooner than I expected. Though I had anticipated it for quite some time, the actual event hit me harder than I ever imagined. 

Sammy, our beloved cocker spaniel, had been a constant presence in our family for nearly 15 years. Throughout numerous ministry-related relocations, he proved to be our faithful family pet.

In all of these moves, Sammy was a “working dog” who loved being with people. Whether it was youth music practices for our church or any other gathering, Sammy was there, enthusiastically greeting everyone with his large, trusting brown eyes and stubby tail wagging furiously.

Sammy came into our lives when our daughter, Kim, was just 10 years old. However, since our last move, we witnessed a decline in his health. It started with his hearing fading, followed by the development of cataracts in both eyes. Soon after, he began limping, and eventually, climbing the stairs to our bedroom became extremely difficult for him. It was heartbreaking to see him struggle, hind legs folded beneath him, unable to lift himself up.

The day before I took him to the vet, he hobbled beside me as we strolled around a quiet little road near our quarters. I didn’t think he could do it, but it seemed like he was determined to walk with me. Tears still well up when I reflect on that moment, realizing it was our last walk together.

The veterinarian said he had bone tumors, and the x-ray revealed that the cancer had spread to his chest. It was too costly to keep him on painkillers and surgery wasn’t an option. After careful consideration, we made the difficult decision to put him down.

Holding him in my arms, I whispered, “I’m sorry Sammy, I’m sorry Sammy,” as the injection was administered. Tears streamed down my face, falling onto his fur, as I grappled with the heart-wrenching realization that I was saying goodbye to my best friend. 

Minutes later, Sammy grew still, his eyes closed, resembling peaceful sleep, but he was gone. 

Death is a mystery, and someday, we must all pass through its deep waters to reach the other side. As painful as it is to endure the loss of a pet, I believe it is a gift given to us to share in a dog’s accelerated passage through life, from puppy to senior citizen, all within a span of some 15 years.

Why did God create dogs? Some say for children, others say for companionship. Nevertheless, one thing I know for certain is that Sammy manifested God’s constant and unfailing love more profoundly than I could ever express. A lasting moment in my mind is of Sammy patiently waiting at the front door, his stubby tail joyfully wagging, ready to greet us whenever we returned home.

Are there dogs in heaven? As far as I can tell, the Bible does not explicitly address an afterlife for animals. However, a beautifully veiled promise is found in 1 Corinthians 2:9 for all who will inherit God’s kingdom:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for entrusting the care of one of your creations to our family and for the timeless lesson in unfailing love you have revealed to us through a faithful friend. 

Are you experiencing grief after losing a pet?

Join HopeWest’s guided pet loss therapy group at the Center for Hope & Healing, 2754
Compass Dr., Suite 300. The next group is Friday, February 9 (2nd Friday) from 10-11 a.m. Call 970-257-2390 for details.